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Mentorships for Student Poets

Brent Martin

Applications are now being accepted for students interested in a mentorship through the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series. This program allows students of all ages to be mentored by three distinguished poets from East, West, and Central North Carolina. The mentors each work with a middle-school, high-school, college or university student, and an adult within their respective regions.

This year’s poets are Eric Weil (East), Ruth Moose (Central), and Brent Martin (West).

Any middle school, high school, college, or university student—or any adult poet not currently enrolled in an academic program—may apply for the GCDP Series mentorship. The adult student poet does not need to submit an instructor recommendation, otherwise the application requirements are essentially the same. There is no cost for applying, but the deadline for 2015-2016 is November 1.

“The student poets work on a dozen pages of poems for six months with their mentor,” said poet William Jackson Blackley, co-founder and chairman of the GCDP Series. “The students and mentors read at either Barton College, St. Andrews University, or Western Carolina, and in addition, each student reads with their mentor at their hometown public library. At the end of each annual cycle a book is publish by St. Andrews University Press containing the poems of the student poet and their mentor.”

For a list of which counties are associated with which region, click here.

To apply for a mentorship click here.

To apply to be one of the three mentor poets for 2016-2017, click here.

“This is a great opportunity for those wanting to dive deeper into their writing and get experience reading in public,” said Brent Martin. “I had a lot of fun with it last year.”

The Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series is a program of the North Carolina Poetry Society. The program hopes to foster the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry across the state of North Carolina.

You’re Invited: Reception for Lee Smith Novel Prize

Lee Smith

Lee Smith

Carolina Wren Press hosts the annual Lee Smith Novel Prize honoring New York Times bestselling author and North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductee Lee Smith. The inaugural winner is Mulberry by Paulette Boudreaux, and CWP will host a reception to celebrate:

Friday, October 23, 7:00 pm
The John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Smith Warehouse, Bays 4 and 5
114 S. Buchanon Blvd.
Durham, NC 27703

The evening will feature remarks by Lee Smith, Paulette Boudreaux, Jill McCorkle, David Payne, NC Literary Hall of Fame inductees Jaki Shelton Green and Allan Gurganus, and others. The public—that means you!—is invited, but space is limited.

Tickets can be purchased at All proceeds benefit Carolina Wren Press, a 501(c)(3) organization.

The submission period for the next Lee Smith Novel Prize is now open. The award will be presented to a novel by an author from, living in, or writing about the American South—authors need only meet one of these qualifications, not all three. CWP hopes to find and promote novelists from the South and their novels and, in the process, to explore and expand the definition of Southern literature. The winner receives $1,000 and publication by Carolina Wren Press. The deadline is November 30.

Lee Smith, of course, will give the Keynote Address at the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2015 Fall Conference on Friday, November 20. She’ll also lead a workshop, “Believe It or Not! Fact or Fiction?”

Having just finished my first nonfiction book, I’d like to open up a freewheeling discussion on the hazards and benefits of both genres…and offer a few hard-earned pointers on how to make the page come alive in either form.

Registration for the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference is now open.

All About the Authors

We’re excited to share with you a new online resource for writers: All About the Authors, a “support system for authors housed within a one-stop virtual platform where writers learn about all aspects of book publishing.”

They’ve assembled a crack team, including Carin Siegfried (who also serves as a Critiquer for the North Carolina Writers’ Network Critiquing and Editing Service); Betsy Thorpe, who’s been on our faculty for several Fall Conferences; and Priscilla Goudreau-Santos, who led a publicity workshop at the NCWN 2014 Fall Conference in Charlotte. Other players include Karen Alley and Nicole Ayers.

Writers can join for a monthly or yearly fee, and you’ll get some crazy discounts if you sign up now.

Membership gives you access to the Author Resource Center, where content is updated weekly on all things editing and writing, including:

…videos, white papers, and other educational material covering all aspects of the publishing industry, from getting started with writing to marketing that final product. New content is uploaded every week by one of our team of professionals. Members also receive a monthly newsletter with tips for writers and information on what’s new on our website and in the industry.

For a taste of what a subscription gives you access to, you can check out a smattering of free content on the site, and sign up for their e-newsletter.

Hotel Options for Fall Conference

FC11.MarqueePlease note, the Doubletree by Hilton Asheville-Biltmore, site of the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference, has no more guest rooms available. They are currently sold out. However, there are several great hotel options well within walking distance.

For starters, this is the Doubletree’s sister property, and you can use the code “NC Writer’s Network” to secure the special $95 per night rate (please call to secure this special rate):

Biltmore Village Lodge ** Only 15 rooms left! **
Cost: $95 per night
Distance from conference: less than ¼ mile
Guests should call the hotel directly at (828) 277-1800 and mention “NC Writers’ Network” to make reservations. This is the hotel’s website.

Here are four additional hotels that are 1/4 mile or less from the conference venue, listed by ascending price (please note, rates are subject to change prior to booking):

Guest House Inn
Cost: $76 per night
Distance from conference: ¼ mile
(828) 274-0101 or website

Clarion Inn Biltmore Village
Cost: $120 per night
Distance from conference: ¼ mile
(828) 274-0101 or website

Baymont Inn and Suites Asheville-Biltmore
Cost: $160 per night
Distance from conference: less than ¼ mile
(828) 274-2022 or website

Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville
Cost: $289 per night
Distance from conference: ¼ mile
(828) 505-2949 or website

Registration for the NCWN 2015 Fall Conference is now open.

In the Company of Laureates

Shelby Stephenson

Like astronauts or living U.S. presidents, poet laureates are a pretty exclusive club. There aren’t that many of them, by nature of the job description—to serve as ambassadors for poetry and literature in their city, state, or nation.

On Saturday, October 11, from 1:00-5:00 pm at the Hylton Center for the Performing Arts at George Mason University’s Science and Technology campus, in Manassas, VA, more than 20 current and former poets laureate from Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia will gather to celebrate American poetry for “In the Company of Laureates.”

The event is free and open to the public.

J.K. Daniels and LeeAnn Thomas will serve as emcees. Poet Laureates on-hand will include JoAnn Balingit (Poet Laureate of Delaware); Marc Harshman (Poet Laureate of West Virginia); Ron Smith (Poet Laureate of Virginia); and of course Shelby Stephenson, current Poet Laureate of North Carolina.

The day includes panels, presentations, and workshops, including a panel for veterans, “Words on War,” with Dr. Frederick Foote, Bill Glose, Jim Mathews, and Claudia Gary (moderator).

For a complete list of the laureates who will be in attendance, and a schedule of events, click here.

Random Acts of Poetry Day

It’s the first Wednesday in October, which means today is Random Acts of Poetry Day:

Random Acts of Poetry Day is about painting poetry in the public square, either literally or figuratively. Chalk your poem onto the sidewalk, leave one on a subway seat, pin one onto your local grocery store board.

The website Tweet Speak Poetry offers a free book to download with 10 ideas for sharing random acts of poetry…or get creative to let poetry touch someone today.

They also offer links to good poems to share, but we recommend just choosing your favorite poet and sharing a poem of his or hers that really means something to you, or that you just happen to love. Enthusiasm is contagious. Let’s try to spread poetry like the norovirus.

How’s that for a campaign slogan?

Thanks to our friend Kevin Dublin for passing this along!

Hug a Teacher Today

Today, Monday, October 5, is World Teachers’ Day. If you know a teacher, say “thanks.” If you’re a bartender, buy a teacher a drink. And let’s all of us take a moment to remember the mentors and teachers who touched our lives.

To celebrate,, an automated proofreader billed as “the world’s most accurate grammar checker,” put together the following infographic. It’s a good reminder not only to go back and read a teacher classic like Goodbye, Mr. Chips, but that the world is always looking for great educators. Enjoy.

World Teacher Day

Come See Us at Bouchercon 2015

Bouchercon 2015 opens in one week. The North Carolina Writers’ Network will have a booth at the convention, so please come by and say hello. You might have the pleasure of sharing a few laughs with one of our tireless board members who will be around all weekend.

Wondering who else is going to be there? The Bouchercon website offers a list of attendees. Now you can plot ways to bump into that important connection—or see if you’ll spend the weekend trying to dodge an old flame.

Don’t miss Friday’s panel, “Acorns Nurtured Here: The Talent Past, Present, and Future,” featuring Network members Ruth Moose, Karen Pullen, and Chris Roerden. This panel happens at 2:30 pm in Governor’s II.

Network member AJ Tata will sit on the “Local Guest of Honor” panel on Friday at 2:30 pm in Congressional AB; Karen and fellow member Art Taylor will read from and sign the 2015 Murder Under the Oaks Anthology on Saturday at 10:30 am in University ABC; Karen will be a featured guest at “In Honor of Librarians: a Southern Tea” on Saturday at 2:30 pm in State CD; Art will sit on the panel “Short, and Shocking: The Mystery Short Story” on Sunday at 10:00 am in Governor’s I; and AJ will sit on the panel “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Heroes and Antiheroes” on Sunday at 10:00 am in State EF.

Margaret Maron, cousin of North Carolina poet laureate Shelby Stephenson (she introduced Shelby at this 2014 induction into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame) will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bouchercon is the world’s finest annual crime fiction event, bringing together more than 1,000 authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, editors, and every other part of the community for a fantastic four-day event. This is their 46th year.


Going Back in Time?


The Galloway House in Xenia, OH

Do you write historical fiction, or do you think you might want to, one day? Then don’t miss Bharti Kirchner’s recent article in The Writer, “Look Back with Historical Fiction.”

Kirchner offers five things to keep in mind while casting your writerly eye back in time.

1. Why historical? “You don’t have to be an expert in your chosen period and setting; the only requirement is the willingness to do research.”

2. Immerse yourself in the period. It’s necessary to “make judicious use of factual details and, as necessary, apply imagination to fill the gaps where history is undocumented.”

3. The crucial dialogue. Keep your dialogue sounding “realistic and natural.”

4. A broader perspective. Consider including “observations on political and economic struggles and tensions of society, gender and class.”

5. The story, above all. “In the end, what’s most important is the story your characters have to tell.”

To read the full article, click here.

Music for the Prose

Words and music are as natural a pairing as cucumbers and gin. Which makes us wonder why more people aren’t doing what the producers behind Music for the Prose have stirred up: setting original musical scores to famous works of poetry or verse.

Composer and conductor Daniela Candillari and theatre and film actress Kelli Ruttle moved to New York City around the same time and met there, quickly becoming friends. Every ten days or so they release a new two-part episode.

In Part I, Kelli reads the week’s piece over Daniela’s music. Then in Part II, the producers discuss the inspiration for the work and offer a backstage pass to their podcast in a segment they’re calling “Behind the Mic.”

The hosts are warm and instantly likeable, and the episodes range from rhapsodic (Walt Whitman’s “Mannahatta”) to downright creepy (Aaron the Moor from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus). There’s enough history in each episode to satisfy those listeners who want to learn something, and each segment is short enough for a commute or your elliptical workout at the gym.

So far, Music for the Prose has kept to the canon of English Literature, using written works that are in the public domain.

Episodes are available at iTunes or Soundcloud, and the producers can be reached at